Who we are
Hipster hooray ... Thrift shop makes fun of cool.
This is a column in defence of hipsters. I'm writing it because I'm worried I might be one and I don't want you to make fun of me, the way Taylor Swift has done in her song We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together; the way Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have done in Thrift Shop; the way Christiaan Van Vuuren has done in his ''Bondi Hipsters'' YouTube videos; and the way American comedian Fred Armisen has done in his TV series and book Portlandia.
I say there's a bit of hipster in all of us, and we should embrace our inner hipster, because mockery is so mainstream.
My suspicion about myself started in a music store last week, when I found a nostalgic tear running down my cheek as I looked at a bin full of newly minted LP records. I saw Bob Dylan's album Highway 61 Revisited, with the original cover, and thought, ''I must buy a record player again.'' A craving to hear music at 33⅓ revolutions per minute is a primary symptom of hipsterism.
Odd man out ... Bondi Hipster Christiaan Van Vuuren. Photo: Steven Siewert
That symptom lets us track the spread of the disease. Vinyl LPs were replaced by CDs in 1985 and sales went into a nosedive until the low point in 2007, when Australians bought just 18,000 of them (while buying 44 million CDs). In 2008, the hipster fad arrived and vinyl sales started rising again. By 2012, we were buying 127,000 LPs a year (while CD sales had dropped to 27 million, as the mainstream shifted to downloads).
At this rate of rise and fall, LPs will be outselling CDs by 2016, when hipsters will need to stop buying them, because one of the defining features of hipsters is that they rejoice in being eccentric.
Their most common expression is: ''At the moment I'm into [name of musician/foodstuff/cafe/author/clothing style] … but you've probably never heard of it/them.'' The other defining feature is they deny being hipsters. If you're worried you are displaying symptoms, you may find these FAQs helpful.
Kristen Stewart went On the Road to regain her cool.
What do hipsters eat? Everything organic, alternative and unknown. Consuming strange grains and weird leaves makes them healthy enough to roll their own ciggies and take the occasional sniff of cocaine. If they're not vegans or pescetarians, they have highly specialised allergies, intolerances and preferences, such as, ''The only meat I eat is kangaroo, to save the forests'' and ''I won't eat octopus, because they are as intelligent as dolphins''. They drink Bonsoy lattes in dark cafes, but you've probably never heard of that.
What do hipsters wear? Males wear their hair short back and sides with a long fringe that pokes out from their oversized beanie, but they protect their eyes with horn-rimmed glasses. They button their check shirts to the neck but wear their pants short enough to display their vintage socks and loafers. Females wear their hair partly shaved and multi-coloured, with a bowler hat, red lipstick, ironic T-shirt, long skirt and Doc Marten boots. Both genders are often seen carrying a 1950s-style Penguin paperback (Catcher in the Rye, preferably) while pushing a fixie (single-gear) bicycle.
What do hipsters enjoy? Vinyl albums, of course, but they also have iPods, on which they listen to esoteric bands and rare musical forms. Angus and Julia Stone and Vampire Weekend were hipster faves until they became successful. Television is too mainstream, although they were moderately interested in Zooey Deschanel before New Girl became a hit, and in the pay TV sitcom Girls before its writer, Lena Dunham, started winning awards. They love indie movies, and right up their alley was On the Road, based on Jack Kerouac's 1957 beatnik bible of the same name, even if Kristen Stewart was obviously desperate to regain hipster cred.
Where do hipsters live? If they're in Sydney, the short answer is Newtown or Surry Hills, but if your question refers to the kind of accommodation they like, the book Portlandia describes the ideal residential development: ''It has supercheap rent and tons of character. It's probably owned by an Eastern European immigrant who doesn't seem to understand the value of his property. Inside it's cozy and cute with brightly coloured walls; on the outside it's crumbling, with visible signs of tough teenage vandalism … You want to be associated with the first wave, the artists, the junkies, the carefree, those who have as much joie de vivre as the ethnic community they pushed out.''
See anything there you can relate to? Don't be embarrassed. It's between you and me. And remember: the only thing worse than being hipster is being mainstream.
For further therapy, go to smh.com.au/opinion/blog/the-tribal-mind.